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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Offseason needs

Once again, the results of my poll surprised me. The vote was overwhelming. Starting pitching is the Nats' biggest offseason need.
It got 32 votes out of 46 cast. Relief pitching was "runner-up" with eight. A middle infielder got four, a big bat got 1 and a catcher got 1.

I think starting pitching is a need. I think relief pitching is a bigger need.

Right now, I have Lannan, Detwiler and Hernandez in the rotation (yeah, I know, but I'm assuming/hoping they'll keep Livan around). Lannan is an obvious lock. I think the Detwiler we saw in September earned that, I was much more impressed with the way he carried himself upon his return. Livan is Livan - he'll get rocked now and then but keep you in it more often than not.

This free agent they talk about will be in the rotation and who knows what player will fill that slot? They'll get someone. Is Tim Hudson worth a look? Are the Marlins really looking to trade Josh Johnson? Can he be had without sacrificing the entire farm?

The fifth spot? Let the rest of them battle it out: Mock, Balestar, Martin, Martis, Stammen, anyone else.

Clippard, Burnett, MacDougal as bullpen holdovers - probably Bergmann, too. At least at the start. Will Storen be ready that soon? Even if he is, there's a couple of spots available. I'd love to see the Nats sign or trade for some proven relief help. Who is out there worth pursuing? I must go look. I will report back later.

I'll take another season of MacDougal as the closer if Storen isn't quite ready. What we saw with him is what we'll get. Some nights he'll be unhittable and other nights it will be ugly. He's not a long-term answer but he'll do for one more year. Storen is certainly the guy in 2011, you'd think. You'd hope.

Can Flores catch 130 games next year? What are the available options? Will Guzman handle a move to second base? Is it worth pursuing Orlando Hudson? Oh, I could go on and on and on.

But get some relief pitching first.


Sasskuash said...

This team has lost over 100 games for 2 straight years. Relief pitching is flaky and unpredictable, regardless of whether we fill it through free agency or unproven guys in-house. Look at guys like Ayala and Rauch and Colume and Rivera who a year or 2 ago were great and this past year were terrible, whether for the Nats or somebody else. besides, we have bigger problems than our cruddy bullpen:
- We need more consistent starting pitching that can pitch deeper into games. Too often our starters were being pulled in the 5th inning (or earlier) and left our bad bullpen with too many outs to make.
- We need stronger defensive play, especially in our middle infield. Whether Desmond starts in DC or Syracuse, I still want a veteran with a glove to support our pitching staff.
- We need a more reliable backup catcher capable for starting long stretches when (not if, when) Flores gets hurt. Nieves and Bard are nice for an occasional start, but over weeks with Flores on the DL they don't cut it.
- We need better bench bats for when Guzman gets hurt or Zimmerman needs a day off. Pete Orr and Mike Morse don't do it for me.

With that said, we do need to have some sort of plan with the bullpen. It cannot be ignored, like it was last year. I trust Rizzo to be able to concentrate on multiple holes in one offseason, unlike his predecessor who really only cared about a big bat and forgot about defense, pitching, base running, the bullpen and winning.

An Briosca Mor said...

If they pick up a couple of quality starters via FA or trade, that opens the way for many of that crop of young, semi-adequate starters from last year to become relievers. Guys like Mock, Martin, Stammen, Balester, Martis, etc, have shown that they can get big league hitters out, at least until the second or third time through the order when the opposing batters start to figure them out. That sounds like the ideal description of a relief pitcher. Perhaps one or two of them might emerge as viable starters, and if so, great. Have them all on the roster, and let the ones who can't start pitch in relief. Those guys are all past the point where they need to be in the minors mowing down lineups. We know they can do that. Keep them up in the bigs in order to find out what kind of pitcher they will eventually become.

DoubleH said...

What, no Strasburg?

Anonymous said...

On a brighter note - I was able to finally watch the Baseabll Tonight Web Gem special yesterday. Z-Man pulled it out for overall web gem leader. And the Nats were the overall team leader as well. In case you didn't see it, Z-Man was on the show to receive the "Awards".

Dave P.